I never wonder if I, or anyone else has “the right to be depressed.” I think the very idea seems way off. Throughout my life, I have heard others validate or invalidate individuals (and sometimes, me), on whether enduring depression is acceptable,“ridiculous,” or to be expected. It seems to me, these opinions appear to be based almost solely on measurable logistics. For example,
My pet bird died. My best friend is struggling with heroine addiction and I haven’t been able to find work for eight months. I don’t know where my rent money is coming from.
Survey says…. acceptable for depression. This person has “the right to be depressed.”
I got my sixth callback for the Broadway show I mentioned to you a few weeks ago, and it’s a leading role. I also have a full scholarship to the Alvin Ailey School, and I have been asked to join a different dance company that I sort of like, but don’t love. I feel like jumping off a bridge.
Survey says…. unacceptable for depression. It just doesn’t add up. If someone has so much going for them, how in the hell can they be depressed, let alone in a dance with suicidal ideation?
I have never approached depression so myopically, but I can certainly understand a myopic approach. It can be really uncomfortable and hard to wrap your head around.
When I was much younger, I had bouts of horrible depression, addiction, eating disorders, etc. Sometimes, when things were absolutely skyrocketing for me in a “positive” direction, I found myself in the most severe depressions. I was in excruciating pain, confused and almost always terrified to the point of paralysis.
Most individuals who know me both personally and professionally would likely tell you that I have great enthusiasm and sometimes, even motivate other people to do stuff. This is true. Even if sadness is present, and sadness is not the same as depression though they often coexist, I choose to keep things very simple and find the optimistic part/s in all situations.
THIS practice, (and it is a practice), has saved my life.
I am as dedicated to this practice as I am to anything else. Right now, I am on “high alert” for depression, because I am overwhelmed with extremely difficult plights that I have little or no control over. This is where the practice of mindfulness, being of service to others and creating daily gratitude lists are a must.
When life is calm, and there is not that much happening, (which so rarely happens), I practice the same exact modalities. This ensures I am prepared for if/when life goes south.
And when life is amazing… when I approach a new love, I am hired to create new university curriculum and execute all of the creative workshops I have ever dreamed of, I may find myself depressed. Does it really matter if it makes sense or not? No.
If we worry about whether we have a right to be depressed or not, we are taking valuable resources from ourselves that could be put to much better use. If you witness someone else’s depression, please don’t invalidate it or try and fix them with a logistical fix. Love them exactly where they are and try and assist in getting them professional help. NEVER question why they are depressed. That is really hard for the suffering individual and does that individual really need to be questioning the “why” they feel depressed? No.
One thing I have learned and have adopted as a sacred belief, is that, “This too shall pass.” This short phrase, introduced to me by my Mother when I was a child, is in every single gratitude list I write, no matter what state I am in.
And one other thing. I am not alone and neither are you. If you don’t believe this, let’s grab some coffee and be alone together. At some point, you’ll realize we are together which means you are not alone. I’m patient. I love coffee. Let’s do it.
I love you, until it passes, as it passes and thereafter.